Thought Bricks 19: Progress

In this lesson Bernard encourages us to not feel down if we are not yet experiencing the striking results reported by other students. He also comments on Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves and encourages to be our “little” self sometimes in OUR TWO SELVES.


William M.



This is the Section, as you see by the subtitle, in the practice of the Practical Life. So many people think that to be spiritually minded, one cannot be practical, whereas the spiritually-minded person is balanced, giving due attention to all planes of earth-life and not emphasising just one, as so many do.

We have all met this rather fanatical type of person, haven’t we? He maybe keenly interested in everything to do with facts and figures, “having his head in a book” and reading at top speed in every available moment. He is often pale and puny, revealing his neglect of the physical needs – fresh air, good food and sensible exercise. He is frequently unaware of his spiritual nature, too, and the great truths of life and eternity.

Another type of person is chiefly interested in the physical life. He is robust, bursting with energy bulging with muscles; and sometimes that is about all! The mental and spiritual consciousness is almost unknown. Then there is the type who cultivates the psychic and the spiritual with the fervour of another man with a hobby. In fact, it becomes a hobby. The mental and physical life is scorned or ignored while he explores the realms of phenomena of various kinds.

These are only a few types, but it will be sufficient to explain what I mean. The people I have described are all “growing”, and I am not in the least unsympathetic towards them – but a steady, all-round development is far more to be preferred. We need to keep our feet on the ground and our heads in heaven, as it were! Yes, and we need a warm heart, full of loving-kindness and friendliness towards our fellow-travellers on this journey called earth-Life.

The truly practical life is a well-balanced one of spiritual, mental, material and physical development. Belief must spring from logic, devotion from clear-seeing, faith from inner growing, and love from the banishment of fear. The one who lives a practical life needs “every angle” maturity, you see.

These Lessons are to help you to live a truly practical life and, to do this they will deal with the problems of other people while trying to attain to this goal. By “watching” the thinking-errors of others you will be able to prevent or correct you own and so achieve a state of progress, whereby all the truth you have received so far can be put to immediate, practical use.

A Student wrote: “Your personal notes tell me of the interest you take in every one of your Students, even those whose efforts and results are not so striking as those published in B.W.N. I am one of those, and I sometimes feel rather dashed and ashamed that I cannot come up to those stirring letters.”

My reply was: “This is not so at all. Quite a lot of Students go right through the Course and report only increased happiness, confidence, serenity and things like that. In fact, I get literally thousands of letters every year, telling me this. I always feel delighted, for what is life without happiness and peace of mind? If we possessed millions of golden sovereigns and were able to bring healing and happiness to others, yet did not possess joy of heart for ourselves, life would be utterly lacking for us, personally, wouldn’t it?”

“It is just because I get so many thousands of letters speaking of gladness of heart, that they don’t often get into B.W.N., though they are most warmly welcomed and noted by me. You see, such letters would fill a dozen magazines every week! All I can do, since I have room to quote a very tiny proportion of letters received, is to choose for publication the outstanding variety, with just a ‘joy of heart’ one sprinkled here and there. So, when you read these stirring letters, never feel ‘dashed and ashamed’. You may be making just as much progress in an eternal sense, and if you are growing in confidence, peace of mind, enlightenment and joy, you can be sure that you are gaining a priceless treasure which even a multi-millionaire could not buy.”

A Student wrote: “It is so good to be able to turn to your writing, whenever I feel a little depressed as I sometimes do.”

 My comment in B.W.N. was: “Of course, Family, most of you will know what my comments will be about that. ‘Getting a little depressed sometimes’ is a sure way to slow down progress. For who could possibly be depressed while staying as honoured guest in the palace of a mighty King – and that is what we are doing, here on earth. We are guests of the King of the Universe and He will ‘honour’ His promises to us if we will but ‘prove’ Him, ask and expect the results confidently without a doubt.”

“So you see, ‘getting depressed sometimes’ means: ‘sometimes, I don’t believe’. That’s why it should be swamped by a happy, confident, heart-singing resting upon God and His unfailing promises. How different life becomes then. You try it, and see.”

Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

A Student wrote: “There is a saying that God helps those who help themselves. Do you believe this? I spent a wonderful holiday among the mountains of Switzerland in May this year, and I am saving something every week so I can return again next year.”

“Today I saw a plant I would have loved to buy. Should one give way to these fads and fancies? But then there are those Swiss mountains and new clothes to be bought, so I turned reluctantly away. Then I wondered what you would have done?”

“Tell me, is it normal for any of your Students to develop queer notions during the Course? I’ve felt a great urge, lately, to give up living in the modern world entirely. I’d do anything to get right away from humans altogether.”

My reply was: “Re ‘God helping those who help themselves’, do people know what they mean by it? Most people mean that, if they work hard, a far-off Being called ‘God’ will send them an extra blessing now and then. But the truth is, that God’s Spirit lives in us and we need His help to move, breathe, think, eat, work, etc., so He helps us to help ourselves, and we cannot help ourselves without His help. That is the truth of it.”

“Why should a desire for a plant be a ‘fad or fancy’? Why, I should have decided that God-in-me would love to give me of His bounty and beauty, and that He would also like to ‘open the windows of heaven’ and give me clothes and other things too – not just one or the other. Our minds are like receptacles for God’s blessings. If we hold up a mind the size of an egg-cup, we get an eggcup’s measure of supply; if a bath-tub, a bath-tub’s measure of supply. If we have a mind so happily trusting in God, so loving Him that we want to be channels for His Love, and receive and give in abundance, then we hold up a great tank of a mind to the ‘windows of heaven’ and get a tank’s measure of supply.”

“To want to get away from humans, is natural at some stage of our upward climb. But we have to love these humans and live to help them, wherever we are. Even the hermits in the Himalayas pray for the world and live for the world, by developing their own spiritual consciousness. Just open yourself to God and want to love everyone in Him and for Him. If you shut your heart away from others, you shut God away, and shut His abundant blessings away. If you open your heart to God and love His children, and live to help them too, God will open His heart to you, too, and then the abundant supply of all good things will pour out upon you.”

A Student wrote: “I came in contact with a lady, who had become separated from her friends and was in great distress. She had been knocked down in the crowd and had had her coat torn. I kept her with me until we had fought our way out of the crowd, and took her to the station. She wanted to get to Forest Hill and I didn’t know the way, but decided to take her there by under ground. This was 11.30 p.m. The wonderful part to me is the fact that in all that milling crowd in the station I should speak to a strange couple in front of me who told me they were going nearly all the way, and they would see that the lady would get safely home.”

My comment was: “I think that is splendid, don’t you, Family? Think of the lovely ‘seed’ that the Student has sown in this kind action. ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked’, says the Scripture. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ That works both ways, doesn’t it? One day, perhaps long after the Student has forgotten this incident, somebody will do her a good turn and she will think: ‘How kind people are! ‘ It will be her ‘reaping’, for, though she forgot, the record of that good deed was built into her hidden nature and was like a magnet, drawing help to her when needed. So it was with the lady in distress. She, too, must have helped someone in the past and so, in her hour of need, in all that great crowd, she was drawn to one who would help her. Thus do we sow and reap.”


Have I ever told you about my two selves? There is a “big” self, which is Bernard, and which you all know. For it is ” Bernard ” who writes all the articles and letters, who has written all the Lessons and who does all the thought building! But now and then you have glimpsed another self, haven’t you? You have glimpsed the self who plays with the animals and the self who loves to say impish things and startle you all (as when I began an article, that time, with the words: ” Let’s pretend we are all dead! “). Well, this is really my “little ” self, the self I am when I relax. You know, with all the problems I hear and all the big Family of Students I have to look after, pray and write for, I might get over-tired and tense if I hadn’t this “little ” self to retire into.

It is nature’s own protection, I think that I am provided with this “safety-valve” as it were. I’ll tell you a secret. I once had a very startling and rather terrible letter from a Student. It was a friendly letter and a confidential one, but just the same, what it contained was a very great shock to me. It was something like a terrific thunderstorm bursting without warning into a still, sunlit day. What did I do? I straightway went into my “little” self, putting the letter aside until I had gained a good reserve of wisdom and strength. I actually sat on the stairs, quite contentedly, playing with a musical toy! It wasn’t “put on” in any way. I really was quite immersed in this toy because it was familiar and ordinary.

Later, I returned to the letter and dealt with it adequately. The reason I am telling you this is because of its possible value to you all. If you have only one “self” and, in the midst of an apparently peaceful period of time, something breaks into your life – some shock, pain or grave problem, perhaps – you are overwhelmed. You “go stale” spiritually, all the brightness of your inner life becomes dim for you, or disappears entirely.

As for prayer and thought building, as for hopes, desires and dreams – they are shattered like glass dropped on a stone floor. But this need not be. If you cultivate your “little” self – for you all have one; it is the legacy from your childhood and is all the wisdom-part of it – then you have a haven to retire into. Instead of getting tense you can relax completely, and actually forget for a little while, while you gather a reserve of strength. Do try to find and use this “little” self, for it will help you to live the abundant life. In this “little” self there is never a time when you cannot rest upon God’s Heart, and smile, and pray.

When all your exercises and studies and thought-building cease for very weariness, you can “climb into God the Father’s lap” and, resting utterly, whisper all that you need and desire, believing in childlike faith that it will be so. That is just what I did the other evening. I thought of those words of the Master’s: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them“.

It was all so easy, so restful. I seemed to feel the pressure of His shoulder beneath my head and, after whispering my childlike prayer I went upstairs to bed thinking: “Of course it will be so, for my Father has promised me”. It was as simple as that. So let us be our “big” selves whenever we can, pray our mighty prayers which will sound like trumpet-notes in the vastness of heaven’s realm and bring wonders into our lives – then, when we need to rest, don’t let us forget it all, but just be little, instead, knowing He understands. This way helps towards a balanced life.

Put it Into Practise

As you go through this Section I want you to link up each Lesson with suitable leaflets (see In this way you will be co-ordinating all that you have already learned and putting it to practical use every day. Look through the leaflets you have and choose titles that go well with the Lessons from your collection. Remember that, in these recent Lessons I do not set out to teach you something new, so much as to help you to co-ordinate and use all that I have taught you already.

Even with quite seasoned Students who had the Course several years ago, I still get surprising remarks in their letters, such as these:- “I do hope God will hear me soon”. “I am awaiting God’s good time.” “Will you pray for me? God does not hear my prayers, but will hear yours.”, “I am naturally sensitive and cannot help being timid and fearful.” Such remarks as these show a lack of co-ordination of the teachings already given. This Section, if properly followed, will overcome this, so you will have much to do and much to gain.

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